Pakistan News

Protest against bid to vacate land near relic

Protest against bid to vacate land near relic

RAHIM YAR KHAN: Dozens of residents of Chak 109-P, Pattan Minara, on Saturday staged a protest here at the GPO Chowk against alleged attempts by an influential person to evict them by force from a piece of land.

Protesters, including men and women of Machi, Rajpoot, Solangi, Mahar, Bhand, Sheikh and Baloach families told journalists that they had been living on the land at Chak 109-P adjacent to 4,000 years old historical site -- Pattan Minara (believed to be a relic of a 5,000 years old Buddhist monastery) -- for the last 45 years.

They said they toiled and developed the barren piece of land over decades and started living there, claiming it was without any ownership.

The protesters said some years back they came to know that some of the land around Pattan Minara was allotted to a retired army officer.

They said that now an owner of a local restaurant was claiming that he had purchased the piece of land from the retired officer and wanted to evict them.

They alleged that the influential restaurant owner was close to some local ruling party politicians and police. They also alleged that he sent police to vacate the land after demolishing their houses. The police were threatening them with arrests if they did not vacate the land, they alleged.

During the protest the district presidents of the PPP, the PTI and the ruling MPL-N youth wing, Javed Iqbal Warraich, Rana Raheel Ahmad and Sunny Chohan, respectively, reached there and negotiated with the protesters.

They assured them that they would support them against any illegal attempt to vacate the land.

Meanwhile, land owner Muhammad Asad told Dawn that he had purchased the 11-acre piece of land some 10 years back from a retired army man. At that time, he said, he had submitted an affidavit to district administration that he would spare an acre adjacent to the historic Pattan Minara site whenever he would use the land for cultivation or some other purpose.

He said the present occupiers of the land had requested him to let them erect their cottages on a part of the land till it was developed for some use. However, he said, that the illegal occupants later started building cemented houses on the land.

He said that he had been requesting them to vacate his land for around a year but they had become “land Mafia” and were now forcing him to sell the land to them.

He said that PML-N PMAs Atif Mazari and Arshad Mazari had also called him to settle the issue.

Mr Asad denied he was using police to vacate the land, claiming that some policemen had only conducted a raid there, with his two servants, to arrest a suspect.

He alleged that local numberdar was backing the illegal occupants.

Assistant Commissioner Dr Adnan Khan Bhitani said the administration wanted to develop the historical site of Pattan Minara as a tourist resort and Bahawalpur commissioner had also visited the site some days back for the purpose.

He said both the illegal occupants and the land owner wanted to halt the land development plan of this historical site.

District police spokesperson Arshad Nawaz told Dawn that airport police station SHO Chaudhary Yasin had went to Pattan Minara site for a “search operation”.

He claimed the police had also conducted a raid there on a call from Chak 109-P about presence of a “criminal”.

Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2017

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